Poem: The Song of the Groom

Performed by the Ballad Singer, this is one of the songs/poems in James Fenton's new adaptation of The Orphan of Zhao.

The Song of the Groom

It is seen that the loveliest girls have begun
To lower their eyes
And older men leave poems for you to find
Hinting in delicate images
At what is on their mind.
All this seems to come to you as a surprise.

Yesterday you were a child.
Today you are neither child nor man
But held as a petal held pivoting
On a gossamer thread,
Wanting no new love yet, no, nor wishing to give
More love than a child well can.

They watch you. They envy the young groom
As he hands you the reins
And helps you with exquisite modesty and tact,
Loving the child in you still, fearing the man,
Uncertain each day just how you may react.
You thank the groom for his pains.

He hands you the sealskin quiver,
The archer's ring and the glove.
He stretches the gut string taut and he proffers the bow
And he lowers his eyes and he trembles,
Fearing his fear will show.
[For] he dreads to betray his love.

Go forth, go ride to your sport.
Find your prey and show your skill.
Shoot from the saddle. Let your aim be true.
Only one man knows who you are,
How many heroes have died for you
And whose blood it is your fate to spill.
Be on your way.
Be a child for one more day.
One whom you love your blood dooms you to kill.

One whom you love your blood dooms you to kill.

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